Ahh, eBay

Happy Friday errrryyboddyyyy!

If you’re reading this and you don’t know what eBay is… I’m sorry, but howww?! 😱

eBay is one of the most well-known online marketplaces out there (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). As a customer myself, you can buy all kinds of things on there! I’ve bought Macbook cases, iPhone cases, screen protectors, sticky notes, makeup bags, photo frames – the lot really! 🛍

It all started in 1996 when Pierre Omiyar first launched the site at the age of 28 (… again, howww?!), under the name of ‘Auction Web’ (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). Within the first 24 hours, Auction Web had zero visitors (quite similar to Sophia Amoruso in Netflix’s take on Nasty Gal, ‘Girlboss’ (Cannon, 2017)), and therefore changed its name to ‘eBay’ in 1997 (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). The site saw 168 million active buyers late-2017, and nearly two-thirds of its transactions are international (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). Holy. Smokes. 🔥

Although its main business objective is to create “the world’s online marketplace” (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019), its core values and vision helped maintain eBay’s road to success. The retailer aimed:

  • To develop communities all over the world built on commerce;
  • To enhance trusting relationships;
  • To be inspired by opportunity; and
  • To be present when people spend time online (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019).

So, how does eBay actually work? Well, if you’ve used the service before, then you already know – but let’s just get into the nitty-gritty before we get into the good stuff.

There are two types of functions on eBay: buying and selling (eBay, Inc., 2019a). It’s also important to note that there are two types of sales (auctions and fixed prices), but we’ll get into that in more detail soon. For the sake of simple explanation, I’m going to refer back to my office printer example from my last blog post.

If you’re a buyer, then you’re looking into purchasing a printer for the office. In the search box, you’ll enter key words relevant to your search (i.e. “office printer”). By default, eBay will list the most relevant results but you also have the option see results under “Auction” or “Buy It Now” (Tech Boomers, 2016).

Source 1: Screenshot of eBay search results

When selecting “Auction” and finding the printer you want, you’d then place a bid (eBay, Inc., 2019a). If you win the bid, then you’d receive an email announcing you as the winner and an invoice will be attached for you to process the payment. Once you have paid for the item, the next step as the buyer is to receive the item. There is then a follow-up email with the opportunity for you to review the seller and the sale.

Source 2: Screenshot of eBay ‘Auction’ sale

The “Buy It Now” option is a quicker process as the item will have a fixed price, but the remainder of the sale process is the same: pay for the item, receive the item, review the seller. The end.

Source 3: Screenshot of eBay ‘Buy It Now’ sale

If my explanation and screenshots are still a bit confusing, Jessica from Tech Boomers will get the job done. ✔️

If you’re a seller, then you’re looking into selling an office printer. eBay Australia has a fantastic four-minute video explaining the ins and outs of selling! But the process is quite simple for an auction (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019; eBay Australia, 2013):

  1. List the item
  2. Set initial bidding price
  3. Set time length for auction
  4. Invoice winning bid
  5. Receive invoice payment
  6. Package item
  7. Ship item to buyer
  8. Review buyer
  9. End of sale

If you’re just wanting to have a fixed price on your item, then Step 2 would differ by setting a price and you’d skip Steps 3 and 4. The rest of the process stays the same.

Okaaaaay, now we’ve gotten through all of that! The million dollar question here is: How has eBay evolved its online brand proposition and communicated it to achieve continued growth? 🤔

The answer lies within eBay’s development of Trust and Safety Programs (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). The online realm is so cool – everything is at the tip of your fingers. The downside? Security. Privacy. Hackers. Accessibility to our personal information, credit card information, interests. #NoThanks

To be honest (and logical), that’s just what goes hand-in-hand with the internet, don’t you agree? We’re very concerned about our security and privacy, which is why I applaud eBay for implementing this program. 👏

The Feedback Forum is an open space where the credentials of buyers and sellers can be discussed (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). Additionally, every registered user has a feedback profile that contains reviews covering the good, the bad, and the ugly (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019). To increase service trust even further, eBay introduced the Top Seller status (Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019) which showcases a seller’s remarkable customer service (eBay Inc., 2019b). That way, if you’re spending a lot of money buying a printer for the office, you want to know that you’re going to purchase a solid product and won’t get stripped of more money than you bargained for.

Gareth Jones, the Marketing Director for eBay UK, came out with a statement regarding the site’s brand proposition through the use of traditional media:

“We don’t want to be defined by that online car boot sale reputation anymore. We need to get people to consider eBay in a completely different way and over the course of 2016, we have re-jigged the way we spend money in marketing.”

Gareth Jones, Marketing Director for eBay UK (Hobbs, 2016)

It’s pretty interesting to see how eBay became a retail giant in the digital environment, but they saw a need in utilising traditional marketing mediums to readjust consumer perceptions of the site (Hobbs, 2016; Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick, 2019).

So, even though digital marketing is so prominent in the business world (just like I said in my last blog), it’s not the be-all and end-all. I personally am in love with digital marketing because the environment is consistently moving with system/application updates and new products launching all the time; not to mention the ever-changing algorithm on social media! I’m an advocate for it, but I’m also someone who still like to purchase textbooks so I can whip out my highlighters and scribble my notes all over the pages – that’s what is valuable to me. 📚

In saying that, there are numerous online streaming platforms available these days (e.g. Netflix, Stan, Hulu) but television will remain a functioning product in every household (at least that’s my personal opinion). I bet you can’t name a single person who doesn’t own a TV. They might not use it regularly, but that’s not the point. The point is that they’d still own one.

Over summer testing, television proved to be the best medium for consumers to readjust their perceptions on eBay (Hobbs, 2019). Watch the video here.

Ahh, eBay. What a wonderful marketplace you’ve grown up to be.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post! Enjoy your weekend.

VP. ✨


Cannon, K. (Creator). (2017). Five Percent [Television series episode]. In Cannon, K., Theron, C., McKinnon, L., Kono, B., Ditter, C., Amoruso, S., Zolner, K., Segal, B. & Wiseman, J, Girlboss. United States: Netflix.

Chaffey, D. & Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2019). Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. United Kingdom: Pearson.

eBay Australia. (2013, September 9). How to sell on eBay – Tips and advice for new sellers on ebay.com.au [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSDXVA3isoE

eBay UK. (2016, November 11). eBay Christmas Advert 2016: Survive The Disco [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=28&v=GBMqgdPgPuk

eBay, Inc. (2019a). How buying works [Website]. Retrieved from eBay: https://www.ebay.com/help/buying/buy-now/buying-works?id=4002

eBay, Inc. (2019b). Seller levels and performance standards [Website]. Retrieved from eBay: https://www.ebay.com.au/help/selling/seller-levels-performance-standards/seller-levels-performance-standards?id=4080

Hobbs, T. (2016). Ebay wants to be ‘all over TV like a rash’ as it looks to rebuild the brand [Article]. Retrieved from Marketing Week: https://www.marketingweek.com/ebay-wants-tv-like-rash-looks-rebuild-brand/

Tech Boomers. (2016, October 24). What is eBay & How Does It Work? [YouTube video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nkl-iZpu_94

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